Most of us celebrated the New Year more than a month ago. But residents of the Roanoke Valley came together Saturday to celebrate the Chinese New Year-the year of the snake-at the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke.
Mayor David Bowers joined in the festivities. He says the event is celebrated in New York City and other large metropolitan areas, “but there’s a whole lot of places in the Middle Atlantic states and in the South were they don’t celebrate the Chinese New Year. But we do in Roanoke because it’s just the celebration of yet another one of our many diverse communities.”
Mayor Bowers rehearsed the crowd in saying“Gong Xi”, which means Happy New Year so they would be ready to sing the New Year’s Song at the conclusion of the celebration.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Roanoke City Council members Bill Bespitch and Anita Price, Senator John Edwards and Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Pearl Fu, who Senator Edwards called the “greatest ambassador for Roanoke” was the emcee.
Cindy Peterson is the Director of Education at the Taubman Museum. “It’s a fabulous collaboration and partnership with Local Colors, so it brings in the community and shows cultural understanding and diversity and it’s a collaboration in many ways.”
Children made traditional red envelopes and participated in various arts and crafts. The main celebration showcased David White and the Shaolin Dragons Martial Arts Academy’s demonstration team. They performed “The Lion Dance” and various Kung Fu forms using staffs, fans, and swords.
A group of children performed a dance choreographed by LuLu Li, a 13-year-old Chinese exchange student who’s studying at Northside High School. They are members of FCC, Families with Children from China.
FCC is a worldwide organization and Deb Bishop, heads the local group. “We formed a chapter group for support for families that were in the process of adopting.” Although China and the U. S. have a good relationship, she says adopting a child from a foreign country isn’t for the weak. “It’s unstable, but you have to stay committed to the end.”
Bishop and her family have adopted three children from China. They are one of over 70 families in the Roanoke Valley that have adopted children from that country. When she got her first daughter in 2005, the wait was about a year. Now parents have been waiting five or six years. “There’s no rhyme or reason why things are delayed; they’re delayed and you just need to learn to accept that.”
“We offer support to families that are in the process of adopting, and the families that are home and have some issues.”
They also have a Yahoo group where members can post questions and get suggestions from others.
People representing more than 100 communities from around the world live in Roanoke and many of them will be present May 18th for Local Colors, the celebration of the Star City’s diversity.